The cockatoo is one of the most favorite pet birds. It belongs to the parrot family and comprises around 21 species. This bird is mostly found in the Australasian region, including Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia. Cockatoos are less colorful than the other parrots, being mainly white, grey, or black, and often with colored tail, crests, or cheeks. They are large birds with curved bills and showy crests. Despite their size, they are popular birds in aviculture.
There are several genera and subgenera of this bird. Here are ten of the most beautiful and noteworthy breeds of cockatoo.
The Galah is also known as the rose-breasted cockatoo, galah cockatoo, roseate cockatoo or pink and grey. Galahs are about 14 inches long with a pale grey to mid-grey back, a pale grey rump, a pink face and chest, and a light pink mobile chest. They can be found in almost all parts of mainland Australia. Galahs often flock and forage on foot for food in open grassy areas. They are highly social and very long-lived. As pets, they are very easy to maintain and keep. They are great talkers, but males are thought to be better talkers. They are very loving and affectionate birds that have a tendency to purr like cats as a sign of their affection. They like to think of themselves as “part of the family”, though they also like their privacy at times. Galahs have been successfully bred with other cockatoos like Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, cockatiels, and little corellas.
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
Found mostly in the arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia, the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo is also known as Leadbeater’s Cockatoo or Pink Cockatoo and is named in honor of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell. It is a medium-sized cockatoo with soft-textured white and salmon-pink plumage and large, bright red and yellow crest. With its bright colors, it is considered as the most beautiful of all cockatoos. This bird is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988), as well as being vulnerable.
The Gang-Gang Cockatoo can be said to be beautiful in a dirty way. These birds are mostly grey in color with some lighter scalloping. The male has a red head and chest while the female has a small fluffy grey crest. They have a very identifiable call which is similar to a creaky gate or the sound of a cork being pulled from a wine bottle. The gang-gang cockatoos are now considered vulnerable animals, living mostly in the cooler and wetter forests and woodlands of Australia.
Otherwise known as Moluccan cockatoo or M2, the Salmon-Crested Cockatoo is native to south Moluccas in eastern Indonesia. It is one of the largest cockatoos, measuring 50 cm (20 inches) long. It has white-pink feathers with a slight yellow on the underwing and underside of the tail feathers. When threatened, it raises its large retractable crest and reveals its hidden bright red-orange plumes to frighten potential attackers. It also has one of the louder calls among parrots. The diet of this bird consists mainly of seeds, nuts and fruits, as well as protein which it derives from insects off the ground. The salmon-crested cockatoo is considered as one of the most demanding parrots to keep as pet due to its high intelligence, large size, potential noise level, and need to chew. Yet, they are highly social and can be extremely cuddly, affectionate, and gentle birds.
The Palm Cockatoo, also known as Goliath Cockatoo, is a large smoky-grey or black parrot. It is 22-24 inches in length and weighs 910-1,200 grams. Its most prominent feature is its powerful bill that can work on very hard nuts and seeds and break off thick sticks from live trees. It also has a distinctive red cheek patch which changes color when the bird is alarmed or excited. The palm cockatoos have a large vocal repertoire, including many whistles and a “hello” call that is human-like. The males also have a unique behavior of drumming broken sticks on dead tree or bough, creating a loud noise that can be heard as far as 100 meters away. Accordingly, this behavior signifies nesting or territorial possibilities. The palm cockatoos are found in the rainforests and woodlands of New Guinea island in Indonesia and Papua New Guniea, and northern Queensland, Australia.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is mainly found in the woodlands of Australia and New Guinea. It is large, having a total length of 45-55 cm (18-22 in). Its plumage is overall white, while the underwing, tail and crest are yellow. The sulphur-crested cockatoos are known to be loud, naturally curious, and very intelligent. They have long lives, up to 70 years for some birds in captivity. They also engage in a process called geophagy in which they eat clay to detoxify their food.
The Cockatiel, quarrion or weiro, is the smallest cockatoo, measuring 300 mm to 330 mm (12 to 13 inches). The cockatiels have two color pigments – the melanin which provides the gray color in their feathers, eyes, beak, and feet; and lipochromes which gives the yellow color on their face and tail, and the orange color of the cheek patch. They are generally regarded as good pets and companion, being sociable and easily become tame. Originally, these birds live in the Australian wetlands, scrublands, and bush lands.
The Blue-eyed Cockatoo measures 50 cm (20 in) in long, with white plumage, mobile crest, black beak, and a light blue rim of featherless skin around each eye. It is native to lowland and hill forests in Papua New Guinea. In 2008, the bird was listed as vulnerable.
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Endemic to Australia, the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is also known as Banksian- or Banks’ black cockatoo. It measures 24 inches in length and its plumage is entirely black, except in the tail region where two lateral bright red panels are found in males and yellow-orange stripes in females. They are generally shy to human and prefer to live in flocks of up to 500 birds. In parts of Australia, they have been implicated as agricultural pests of peanuts and other crops, as well as they do damage on electrical cables on pivot irrigators. The red-tailed black cockatoos are threatened animals and thus, they are protected by various conservation programs.
The Long-billed Corella belongs to the genus Cacatua or the “white cockatoos.” It is mostly white with a reddish-pink face and forehead, and reddish-pink feathers on its breast and belly. It also has a long pale beak which it uses to dig for roots and seeds. An adult bird measures 38 to 41 cm in length with a wingspan of about 80-90 cm. The long-billed corellas are found in grassy woodlands and grasslands, including pasture, agricultural fields, and urban parks in Australia. They are very popular pets in Australia and have been labeled the best “talker” of the Australian cockatoos.